As related by Shoel ben Natl Kaplan
Translation by Tina Lunson
From the book Khurbn Vilne [The Destruction of Vilne],
Edited by Szmerke Kaczerginski, New York, 1947
Published by the United Vilne Relief Committee in New York
TSYKO Book Printing
According to an order from Hanveg, the Area Commissariat in Lida, Jews were driven into Voronova from the surrounding towns of Divenishok, Benakani, Great Soletchnik, Yashny, Kalelishok. Altogether there were 3,000 Jews in the town.
On the 9th of May 1942, the town was encircled by a three-part chain of SS, police, and local residents. We were encircled for three days. Jews were not even forbidden from going outdoors, because there was constant shooting [ed. note: no official curfew was declared].
For the Jews it was already clear what was meant. Some had tried to run away, but many were shot along the way. There were cases where the guards took money from Jews to let them through, but then as soon as the guards took the money they would shot the payers anyway.
On the 10th of May, in the evening, some Jews organized themselves to run away. But that evening Staff Officer Vintsus, from the Lida Area Commissariat, came specifically to announce to the Judenrat that in the morning there would be a document check for all Jews, who would have to go orderly out to the market square, because in Radin there had been misunderstandings this same day with the Jews there who had not behaved [ed. note (Kaczerginski): they had made a rebellion].
In the morning, at five o'clock, before dawn, a troop of drunken Lithuanian SS arrived in Voronova and they drove all the Jews into the market square. In the square, the Jews had to lie down with their heads on the ground.
At the crossroads that led to Lida, by the railroad tracks and Herman Lane, Hanveg was stationed along with Vintsus and other high officers from the area commissariat as well as a representative of the SD (security detail). An order was given to the Jews to lie down according to family. After that they made individual groups stand up to be taken to a sorting place at the crossroads. Each family was led to Vintsus, who decided their fate. Vintsus simply asked the man of the family about his vocational ability and accordingly made the selection. He did not generally ask about larger families. He sorted people into three groups: straight, left and right.
Straight meant to the mass grave by the right highway to Lida, a kilometer and a half from town, near Balerovski's forest. There, were the prepared pits, four meters deep and fifty meters long, which some peasants had dug-up during the time the Jews had been encircled. Those who went there had to pass through two columns of peasants who beat them horribly with rakes and iron bars.
Left meant that if Jews who had been sentenced straight began to run away or mount a rebellion, Jews on the left would be shot, like hostages.
Right - the smallest number were sorted here. Small families and such specialists for whom the Germans might have had a strong need.
I said that I was a miller and was sent with my wife and child to the left, quickly separating me from my parents and my sister Sore.
After the sorting we heard a lot of shooting and, so that the voices of the unfortunate could not be heard in the town, the Germans started up the motor of a truck, the noise drowning out the cries.
The shooting happened like this: the victims were told to undress completely, to nakedness. Only the elderly could stay in their underwear (the Germans were disgusted to look at them). The naked had to go into the grave in groups, lie face down head-to-foot and foot-to-head and as so they were shot. On top of that group, another group was ordered to lie, and so on. This is how they shot 1,800 Jews - men, women and children.
Those who refused to go were rushed with pitch forks by town-dwellers who stabbed the victims through the body and slid them into the pit. They also stabbed children with the pitch forks and pitched them into the pit.
Those left on the right and left were counted. There were 840 Jews. We were taken to the market square, and set down on our knees. Town officials wrote the names of each of us on a list.
Eventually many wagons came from the mass grave with the clothing of those who had been murdered. Some of us even saw the clothing of our own relatives. I recognized my father's jacket.
Hanveg and Vintsus, with his retinue, arrived. Vintsus delivered a speech to us:
You Jews are guilty for all the wars and so you must be exterminated. The Jewish people are like a snake that will poisoned by its own poison. The rest of you will live for a while and will be sent to work in Lida.
In a few days those remaining were sent to the Lida ghetto, where they were killed during the liquidation of the ghetto in October 1943.
Related by Shoel ben Natl Kaplan (Voronova)
Vilne, August 31, 1944
Translated by Tina Lunson
|I dreamed a dream
that peace finally came!
No more fear, no trembling,
Messiah's time ve-gar ze'ev im keves
as written in the holy Torah.
When human no longer treats human like animal.
Life full of joy and goodness, literally a mekhaye.
I had the desire, as can happen to anyone,
Arriving in Vilne, the Litvak Jerusalem,
For nothing I looked in the Benakani station
On to Divenishok, my town,
From the lock I walked to Vilne Street,
I began to go further and at the sheykhet's<br>
wooden house I stood still.
And I go on further, I run.
On Subotniki Street I stand still
In the market square I stand mute
I search further in the market
I saw a vision that is how peace came.
I stood a long time there in one place,
awaiting a response but never heard a word.
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